P.B.C. FIRE RESCUE FACTS

  Click Link: Smoke Alarms Tips

 

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

“Sound the ALARM!

     The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has declared the 2014 theme for Fire Prevention Week, which runs from October 5-11 this year.  The theme is  “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives. Test Yours Every Month!” Firefighters are urging residents to check their smoke alarms and to make sure the batteries are fresh. 

According to the NFPA, having a working smoke alarm in the home cuts the risk of dying in a fire in half. On average, each year three out of five home fire deaths result from fires where there is either no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.  



The NFPA recommends: 


  • Having a smoke alarm inside every bedroom
  • Have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area
  • Have a smoke alarm on every level of the home
  • Test smoke alarms every month by using the test button
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they don’t respond properly when tested or the manufacturer’s date shows that it is expired.
  • 

Fire Prevention Week occurs annually in October during the week in which October 9 falls to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, however Fire Prevention Practices and Safety Presentations typically continue during the entire month of October of each year.

What about smoke alarms for the hearing impaired?  Are there special products available for that?

Smoke alarms and alert devices, called accessories, are available for people who are hearing impaired. These alert devices include:

  • High Density Strobe lights throughout the home that are activated by smoke alarms
  • Pillow or bed shaker system that is activated by smoke alarms for when you are sleeping with your hearing aid sitting on the nightstand.
  • Smoke alarm alert devices, called accessories, produce a loud, mixed low-pitched sound.

    Recent research has shown that a loud, mixed low-pitched sound is more effective for waking people of all ages than the loud high-pitched sound of a traditional smoke alarm. As people age, the ability to hear and process high-frequency tones deteriorates as the hair cells in your middle ear degenerate over time. 

Take the QUIZ to find out through this interactive video:  http://youtu.be/VxcbppCX6Rk

Please share this information with your community and neighbors because together, we can make a difference. Until next time, test your smoke alarms, replace your batteries and most of all…take care of each other. 

 

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

“Patriot Day”

 

Each year we gather to memorialize and reflect back on those that gave it all to save others on 9/11/01. In the Unites States this is officially observed under the title “Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance”,however most folks refer to it simply as 9/11or Patriot Day.

 

Has it always been called Patriot Day?On the initial anniversaries following that tragic day, 9/11 was referred to as a Prayer and Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001.  This was not an official name since the initial idea was to name it Patriot Day in the months following the attacks as evidenced by the national surge in patriotism that was observed when our citizens bonded together, gave generously to the victim’s families and to each other. Citizens everywhere flew their stars & stripes proudly upon their place of residences and on their vehicles.

 

Even though President George W. Bush signed a resolution into law in December of that same year, it wasn’t till later that declaring September 11thof each year as Patriot Day would begin to take shape in the hearts and minds of the American people.

 

Wasn’t there another day already declared as Patriot Day in America?  Technically, yes there was another day named Patriot’s(with an “S”) Dayalready in use in the state of Massachusetts.  In 1894, Governor Greenhalge declared a public holiday to commemorate the dates of the Lexington & Concord battles of The American Revolution as Patriot’s Day, which was also observed by the states of Wisconsin and Maine.  The Federal version of the named day: Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembranceis not an official holiday and therefore government offices, public schools and post offices all remain open on September 11thas it is a discretionary holiday.

 

What is Patriot Day for? When the name Patriot Day was newly declared for 9/11 there was, at first, opposition since there was already a Patriot’s Day in the previously mentioned states.  9/11 is a day to honor, reflect and remember those service men and women that fought to defend our country in those tragic hours and for all our public servants that ran into harms way in order to assist those that were trying to escape. The day is also a time to be thankful for all those currently serving in the armed forces and for our public servants that continue to protect, provide and serve us each and everyday. These include our police, paramedics, and our firefighters serving everywhere.

 

Should we celebrate the acts of terror by rebroadcasting the events of 9/11 on TV each year?Patriot Dayon 9/11 is a time to reflect and remember the good and wholesome of America’s people, our virtues and the high cost we pay for the freedom we enjoy everyday. It is important that we take pause to remember those that lost their lives that day to preserve this and with special recognition to those that gave their lives to save others.

 

Patriot’s Day & National Day of Service and Remembrance is a discretionary day of remembrance, meaning that a special designation has been set aside for it on September 11thof each year through the proclamation of The President of The United States of America each year. 

 

What does this presidential decree call for each year regarding Patriot Day?  The presidential request is to issue each year a decree and proclamation calling all states, local governments and the people of the United States to observe appropriate programs, ceremonies, remembrance gatherings and activities in honor of Patriot’s Day and to those that lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.  It includes a call for the White House, all government buildings and facilities to display the US Flag at Half-staff as well as encourages all private individuals at American homes to display their flags.  Additionally, the proclamation calls for the observation of a moment of silence, preferably at 8:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time), which marks the time that the first plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  

 

Let us NEVER FORGET those that gave it all on 9/11/01 and those that continue to work tirelessly to preserve the freedom, safety and security that we enjoy each day. Until next time, be safe and watch out for each other and our communities.

 

Doug McGlynn

Professional Firefighters/Paramedics 

of Palm Beach County

HOA Community Relations

dmcglynn@iaff2928.com

(561) 969-0729 – O

http://www.iaff2928.com

PBC Firefighters YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/user/PBCFirefighters?ob=0&feature=results_main

Follow us on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/pbcfirefighters

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

“Smoke & Mirrors”

 

I have spoken to so many people who feel they know all that there is to know when it comes to fire safety in the home especially regarding smoke detectors. I’ve heard them say, “I have smoke detectors inside each bedroom as well as in each common area of the home. The detectors are hardwired to the home, synchronized with each other and monitored to an alarm panel.  I have CO as well as smoke and heat detectors and I change out the batteries twice a year for a battery back-up system when the power goes out. I got it all covered, right?”

 

Many would agree that there is not much more to do or know about smoke detectors that would surpass our example above, however, there is a little more than meets the eye when we take a closer look at the technology used in two of the most common smoke detectors on the market.

  1. Photoelectric
  2. Ionization

 

The focus of today’s article is to illustrate the differences between photoelectric smoke detectors and ionization detectors. Keeping with tradition, we will be using our “Fire-Rescue Fast Facts” format. Let’s begin!

 

 

 

What is the difference between these two smoke detectors?

  1. Photoelectric Smoke Alarms – The main difference with photoelectric type detectors is that they generally respond more quickly to fires that smolder or produce more smoke than flames.
  2. How they work:Photoelectric-type alarms have a sensing chamber with a beam of light positioned at an angle away from the sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, it reflects light onto the light sensor, triggering the alarm.

 

  1. Ionization Smoke Alarms – The main difference with these types of detectors is that they are generally more responsive to “flaming” type fires, i.e. fires where the body of fire generates flames that are present in the same area as the detector.
  2. How they work:Ionization-type smoke alarms actually possess a small amount of radioactive material inside a sensing chamber that has an electrically charged plate on each side. The radioactive material in between the two plates ionizes the air and causes current to flow between them. This current is measured against a sensor so when smoke particles enter the chamber, it disrupts the ions which in turn disrupts the flow of current. This change is detected against the sensor, which sends a signal to the horn device thereby producing an audible alarm. 

 

So which detector type do I install: Ionization or Photoelectric?  Nobody knows what type of fire they are going to have, however, for years, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) would recommend having both types of detectors installed in case of an emergency. There are also combination type detectors that have both ionization and photoelectric capabilities built into one, if that’s desired. The problem is that most homes in American have ionization type detectors, and not photoelectric.

 

Why is it a problem to only have Ionization type detectors since they detect fire so quickly?

The problem with only having one technology available is that it may leave residents at a disadvantage if they don’t have the right type of fire for their particular detector. Having both detector types is a great idea however; the fact that most homes in the country have had only the ionization type technology for so many years may have something to do with the contents that were typically stored inside the home. In fact over 90% of all homes have the ionization type.

 

How have the contents in the modern home changed over the years?

To put it plainly, the proliferation of plastics in the modern home has dramatically changed the progress and development of today’s residential fires when compared to the fires of the 1950’s. The home interior surfaces, furnishings and floor coverings were typically constructed of wood, wool, cotton and organic substances. Many of these components have been replaced with cheaper materials, such as plastics, nylons, polyurethane foams and other synthetic materials. Later in the 1980’s and throughout the 90’s, the mass production of home computers due to the invention of the internet caused an additional fire load to develop in the modern home. Disposable furniture containing wood laminated materials with wood chips and glue just adds to the rapid breakdown and release of heat energy when these materials are exposed to fire.

 

So what’s theproblem? 

The byproduct of combustion is heat, smoke and flame. The energy of combustion is measured in BTU’s or British Thermal Units. The BTU is a unit measurement of energy needed to cool or heat up one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. As an example: One pound of traditional wood creates up to 8,000 BTUs.  In contrast, one pound of plastics creates up to 24,000 BTU’s.  So the same size and quantity of plastic in today’s household compared to that of wood creates three times the amount of heat energy.  There is also a problem with the rate at which plastic release its heat energy when it burns.  This rate of heat release is referred to as the HRR or Heat Release Rate and plastics have some of the highest HRRs in the business.  So plastics and synthetic materials create more than three times the BTU’s than traditional wood can of the same size and at an incredibly rapid HRR.

 

 

 

What does that have to do with the type of smoke detector you have?

Plastic and synthetics are made up of hydrocarbons and are commonly referred to as solidified gasoline.  In fact, they are so rich in the release of this carbon that there is not enough oxygen in the air (20.9% oxygen in the air), to allow the product to burn efficiently. This results in a very, thick, black, toxic smoke due to the incomplete combustion process. Even a remote fire burning on one end of the house would trigger a photoelectric smoke alarm to sound on the other side of the house because of the mass quantity of smoke production in the modern day fire. Since photoelectric alarms trigger smoke particles more rapidly than ionization detectors, the probability of early detection is more likely with the photoelectric type in today’s fire since the modern house is full of heavy, smoke-producing contents.

 

So what should we do?  In summary; plastics, Polyurethane foams, polystyrenes, poly-vinyl chloride (PVC), and man made synthetic materials have replaced the traditional materials in the contents of the homes of yesteryear, such as wood, wool, cotton and dimensional lumber. Today’s fires are much hotter and contain materials that release heat energy at an alarming rate when compared to the materials of yesteryear. These materials burn incompletely and result in mass quantities of soot and carbon based smoke even in the smallest of fires in the home. One might argue that a detector that rapidly detects smoke faster than other types of detectors just makes sense if that is what the modern day home fuel package looks like. You can always have both types of alarms and if you don’t want to buy one of each alarm, you can buy a dual alarm with both technologies in it. Consumer Reports recommends the Kiddie Alarm for $23, but no matter what you buy, you should make that purchase with a strong understanding of what it is you are buying and what the limitations of the product are. 

 

Until next time, please share this information with your friends, family and neighbors and most of all…..take care of each other.  

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

“DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME REMINDER”

 

It is that time again to “spring ahead” your clocks for Daylight Savings Time which also means that it’s time to swap out the batteries in your smoke and CO alarms.  Most folks don’t realize that CO Detectors use more battery life than traditional smoke alarms especially when you don’t have it hard-wired into the home’s electrical system.  CO Alarms/Detectors continually sample the air for potential carbon monoxide so the sensor is constantly using energy in order to function. 

 

If your CO Alarm/Detector is a battery-operated unit, then it is imperative that you keep fresh batteries in the unit at all times. Daylight Savings time is the ideal opportunity to remind us all to change the clocks as well as change out all those detector batteries!  We have the most commonly asked questions about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention and Safety from our residents in Palm Beach County so we’ll be using this  “Fire-Rescue Fast Fact” format to begin.

 

What is the cause of Carbon Monoxide in our homes?  The top two non-fire related causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in the US are from gas burning appliances (water heater, oil burner, stoves)  and poorly maintained heating systems.  Although this is true for the nation, in South Florida our major cause and source of carbon monoxide comes from running automobiles in enclosed garages as well as portable generator exhaust, in addition to those listed above.

 

How many CO Detectors should I have?  The CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) as well as the NFPA (Ntl Fire Protection Associaton) recommends having at least one CO detector on every level of the home. It is smart to place your detector between the potential source of carbon monoxide and living occupants.  For instance, if you don’t own a generator or any gas appliances, then an attached garage could present as the prime location for potential sources of carbon monoxide. Therefore, a detector should be placed just inside the home, closest to the garage without actually placing it inside the garage. This detector may be in a great location, however, residents should be mindful that they can actually hear the detector while they’re asleep on the other side of the house. In this case, a second detector should be placed just outside the sleeping quarters or bedroom.

 

Where is the best location to install a CO Detector?  This really depends on the home, the detector type and the potential source of carbon monoxide that exists in the home. As a rule of thumb, most CO Detectors that are hard wired into the home are of the ceiling mounted type.  An electric CO Detector should always have a battery back-up and those batteries should be replaced along with your smoke detector batteries at the Daylight Savings Time change.  If you are installing a ceiling mounted type, make sure that it is no closer than 4” from any walls. You should also avoid any dead spaces, corners or intersecting walls/partitions.

 

          The Wall is also an ideal location to install a CO Detector:

Carbon Monoxide is slightly lighter than air so in cases of ambient temperature carbon monoxide levels (E.g.- carbon monoxide NOT from a fire which produces hot, buoyant gases), the gas can be detected by monitors that are mounted in areas other than on the ceiling. Because of this, wall mounted detectors should be no lower than 5ft from the floor.  A common detector type is of the “plug in style” which allows the product to simply be plugged into a wall mount outlet.  Many homes have wall mounted outlets 5’ off the floor in their laundry room walk-thru which serves as an excellent location to mount a CO Detector. For homes without a laundry room walk-thru leading from the attached garage into the home, the kitchen itself will suffice. Again, the kitchen wall outlets are also raised up off the floor, although the room size in a kitchen is considerably larger than a walk-thru laundry room. 

 

It has always been advised NOT to install smoke alarms in the kitchen.  Is it okay to install CO Detectors in the kitchen?

CO Detectors are NOT like smoke detectors and will not trigger an alarm if they are exposed to low concentrations of CO for only a few seconds. The reason smoke alarms are not advised to be installed inside kitchens is because of the “false alarm” potential. This is not the case with a CO Detector although there are a list of “false positive” alarms for all types of detectors. Next month we will expand on CO false positives.  Some CO Detectors work on low level activations which will trigger an alarm quicker than some of the other products on the market.

 

How long do they last?   As a rule of thumb CO Detectors should be replaced every 7 years per the manufacturer’s instructions.  CO Detectors are NOT like smoke alarm/detectors which commonly last longer (approx. 10yrs).  If the Detector is triggering false alarms or if the alarm chirps/indicates a low battery state even after replacing the battery this might be one of either two causes:

  1. The Detector is defective and should be replaced
  2. The Detector is actually in the ALARM MODE and the homeowner just doesn’t realize it.  In this case, an unsuspecting resident may be changing out batteries instead of exiting the home & calling 911.

 

What does a CO Detector in the ALARM MODE sound like?  The best answer to that question is,  “you tell me what it sounds like”.  Homeowners should absolutely know what the detector sounds like while it’s in the ALARM MODE and this should be verified monthly by pushing the “push-to-test” button on the detector.  You will see that most folks don’t realize that CO Detectors don’t “chime” like a smoke alarm. They “beep” in a particular sequence that is proportionate to the quantity of seconds of silence that follow the beep. This information is listed on the back of the detector and part of the Manufacturers Instructions that comes with the product packaging. There are some detectors that have “Voice Commands” and additional warning devices such as flashing lights, LED screens, etc that can also alert residents that there is a Carbon Monoxide Alarm in progess.

 

Does the CO Detector “beep alarm” sound similar to the low-battery “chirp” in a standard Smoke Detector?  Yes. This is true and that is why it is so important for residents to operate the “push-to-test” button at least monthly so we know what the detector sounds like when it is in the ALARM MODE.

 

Due to the importance of this topic and the life saving information that can be gathered by sharing these question & answer articles, we will continue this discussion next month. Until then, click the links below, talk to your neighbors and look out for one another!

 

See Ch25 News exclusive:  http://www.wpbf.com/news/south-florida/Palm-Beach-County-News/Firefighter-Many-mistake-carbon-monoxide-danger-alert-for-bad-battery-signal/-/8815578/18247486/-/b0ippm/-/index.html

 

 

Doug McGlynn

Professional Firefighters/Paramedics 

of Palm Beach County

HOA Community Relations

dmcglynn@iaff2928.com

(561) 969-0729 – O

http://www.iaff2928.com

PBC Firefighters YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/user/PBCFirefighters?ob=0&feature=results_main

Follow us on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/pbcfirefighters 

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

Click the link for our new Kitchen Fire Safety Video filmed at the Herman W. Brice Regional Fire Rescue Training Complex at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Headquarters.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RGcpGJ2Nzo&feature=share&list=UUwP9OoDKoLuhXHvAkwv7nkg

 

Can you P.A.S.S. the Test?

How’s your Home Fire Safety?

 

One question we get asked a lot is “What should I do with my old fire extinguisher?”  That’s an easy one.  What isn’t so easy is when they ask, “How can I tell when my extinguisher is too old to keep?”   That’s what this month’s article of Fire Rescue Fast Facts plans to answer. The question for you is, “Can you P.A.S.S. the test?”.

 

Are homes required to have fire extinguishers installed? Laws do vary from state to state in regards to new home codes and inspections, however no code or regulation exists for current and existing homeowners to have or even own a fire extinguisher on the premises of your private dwelling. That is why it is so important to know what the parameters are for places of business, commercial occupancies and apartment buildings since they do have to comply with local fire codes. In this case, it would be wise to follow those regulations as a guideline for your own safety regarding fire extinguisher usage.

 

What is the most common multi-purpose fire extinguisher for residents to own?  The most common fire extinguisher is a 1A/10BC Dry Chem Extinguisher. The name indicates that a person should be able to extinguish 10 sqft of fire involving the particular class of fire it is designed for. They weigh approximately 5lbs. or less and discharge a distance of 6 ft.  The classifications are as follows:

Class A – trash, wood, paper, natural products & organic materials

Class B - flammable liquids and gases, oils 

Class C – energized electrical equipment, appliances

 

If it is not required to perform monthly and annual inspections on private dwelling fire extinguishers, then how do I know if the extinguisher is in working order?

Residents should still inspect their portable fire extinguishers for signs of wear, container compromise,   obstruction and properly stored pressure.   Dry Chem extinguishers have a pressure gauge on them.                                                                

 

As long as the gauge reads in the “green” then the stored pressure is sufficient.

 

 

 

When should I replace my Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher?

Again, homeowners and residents of private dwellings alike do not fall subject to any laws, regulations or restrictions regarding portable fire extinguishers.  However, employers have strict regulations on how often they inspect (monthly and annually) as well as period specific points that warrant pressure testing the container.  This is called a Hydrostatic Test and is part of the 12 year service (for Dry Chem) or maintenance of the extinguisher.

            ** One word of caution: Just because the extinguisher is in “the green zone” it may not function properly at a fire if it is significantly aged. The reason is that this Dry Chemical is a proportionate blend of two substances, monoammonium phosphateand ammonium sulfatepowder which has the tendency to cake up in the cylinder. After the years this caking can become a real problem and has been know to clog the narrow rubber hose upon discharge. Some fire departments advise to give the extinguisher a “shake” before discharging to ensure that caking will not occur.

 

Should I replace or service?

You can find a fire extinguisher service agent in the yellow pages and the rates/fees to vary. In addition to visual inspection and a thorough hydrostatic test process, this test also involves dumping the agent or product and refilling it before re-pressurizing it for service. Depending on the type and quality of the extinguisher this step may not be cost effective when compared with how much a new 10BC extinguisher is at the local hardware/home improvement store.

 

Where do I dispose my portable fire extinguisher?

Fire Extinguishers: The Sold Waste Authority (SWA) has a new facility in West Delray Beach at

13400 SR-7 (1.5 miles north of Atlantic Bl).

http://www.swa.org/site/hhw/haz_waste_home/hhw_home_rev1.htm

Here residents can pull up the main drive and drop off things such as flammable liquid containers, to

aerosols, old fertilizers & pesticides to paint, lacquers & thinners and yes……even expired pressurized

fire extinguishers. http://www.swa.org/site/facilities_and_hours/facilities_and_hours.htm

 

Where can I get training on portable fire extinguishers?

Your local firefighters are always here to meet and exceed your fire safety needs. Please get in contact with your HOA president so that we can schedule a training session for your community in portable fire extinguisher safety. This is a regularly scheduled training session for many employees who work in places of business that carry fire extinguishers. What you need to remember is that the contents of the fire extinguisher can and will discharge under pressure. The National Home Safety Council and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) do not recommend using them on oil and grease fires. The reason is because the pressure from the discharge nozzle is significant, it can dislodge the oil content onto the surrounding surfaces creating a larger fire.  Oil fires from pots on stoves are best controlled by sliding a lid over the top, shutting the range top, exiting and calling 9-1-1.  If you have an non-oil/non-grease fire that is fully contained and small in size (waste paper basket on fire), the use of a portable fire extinguisher may be operated using the P-A-S-S technique.

 

Next month we will discuss more on Kitchen Fire Safety and the limitations of using certain extinguishing techniques.  So how did you rate on your own Fire Safety knowledge.  Did you P.A.S.S. the test?  Please share this information with your neighbors and take care of each other this fall season. Until next time, Be Safe!

 

Doug McGlynn

Firefighters & Paramedics of PBC

HOA Community Relations

dmcglynn@iaff2928.com

(561) 969-0729 – O

http://www.iaff2928.com

 

PBC Firefighters YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/user/PBCFirefighters?ob=0&feature=results_main

 

Follow us on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/pbcfirefighters

Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

 The Stand-alone ER; Part II

 

Last month we spoke about our newest medical-kid-on-the-block, the “Stand Alone ER”.  We discussed how we experienced the expansion of doctor-owned urgent care facilities through the 90’s and how those medical express centers continued to compete for our healthcare business as valid alternatives to the traditional private practice. This month we plan to expand upon those issues by digging a little deeper into the critical care intervention facilities and the medical capabilities of hospitals in our local area.

 

Are the hours between private practice, urgent medical care facilities and emergency departments similar?  No they are not.  Urgent care facilities often have later hours than private practice/doctor’s offices; however, they generally close early in the evenings throughout the week with limited hours of availability on the weekends.  Hospital based and off-site emergency departments throughout the county have the same hours of operation: 24hrs a day/7 days a week, including holidays.

 

Are the off-site ERs the same as the hospital ERs? The two off-site ER’s in Palm Beach County, both affiliated with JFK Medical Center (The Shoppes at Woolbright in Boynton Beach and the Mainstreet at Midtown PGA in Palm Beach Gardens), have the same basic services that are available that any other Emergency Room. 

 

So what’s the difference?As was mentioned in last month’s article, Palm Beach County has many critical care interventions that are available at some hospitals and not others.  Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has created an informational sheet titled “Hospital Capabilities Checklist” so that the paramedics know what the closest and most appropriate facility is when compared with the patient’s current condition.  For example, Palm Beach County has only two alert intervention facilities that are designed for handling critical care trauma patients (Level I Trauma Centers) and those patients must meet specific criteria in order for Fire Rescue to transport them under the trauma “alert status”.  Palm Beach County has intervention facilities that handle Stroke and Pediatric cases, but perhaps not OB or Cardiac critical care interventions.  This doesn’t mean that the emergency departments in general cannot handle patients that have cardiac, stroke or OB type history. It just means that there are designated facilities which are equipped to handle patients that fall into the respective alert criteria for certain specialized field of critical care.  

 

The only services not available at an off-site ER according to the “Hospital Capabilities Checklist” are critical care interventions such as patients meeting “stroke or cardiac alert” criteria. Those patients would be transported to a facility with the appropriate designation.

 

Can a patient over-rule a Fire Rescue Paramedic when making a transport decision that does not reflect positively in the patient’s best interest?   Of course it is always the primary goal of any fire rescue crew paramedic to reflect the patient’s best interest when making patient care and/or emergency transport decisions. However, as long as the patient is legally and medically competent and is aware of the consequences of making a decision that may, in fact, harm or even cause death, the patient has the right to make that decision.  Again, there is a strict procedure for this scenario and it is rare that it even happens.  When it does happen, a refusal form must be signed by the patient after adamant and repeated refusal was communicated to the emergency medical crew. 

 

If the patient wants to bypass a nearby ER in favor of one further away, can they do that?  Again, as long as the criteria described above are all met and the patient does not meet any critical care intervention criteria, then the patient can refuse a closer ER in order to be transported to the facility of their choosing.  If this decision is not in line with the paramedic’s professional judgment, and is not in the best interest of the patient’s health and well-being…..the refusal procedure described above must be implemented.

 

What if you are transported or you drove yourself into an off-site ER and now you meet criteria that requires that you to be transferred or admitted into a hospital?  The off-site ER has strict criteria that they follow when a patient’s condition warrants an emergency transfer to an alert intervention facility or when their condition warrants a hospital admission:

  • If the patient’s condition warrants a non-emergent transfer, an inter-facility transport will be scheduled. 
  • If the situation is emergent (regardless of alert criteria or the patient’s condition warrants a direct admission to a hospital), the 911 Emergency service will be utilized in order to get fire rescue on-scene immediately. Once arrived, paramedics will assess the situation and make a rapid transport decision that follows their protocols. Any deviance from this will fall within the patient refusal procedures described above.

 

Unless it is a medical emergency, where legal and or medical competence cannot be established (e.g.- patient unconscious and unresponsive), the patient must grant consent to medical treatment and/or transport in all situations. Otherwise, emergency crews will operate under the premise of “implied consent” and act in the patient’s best interest based on what a healthy and prudent person would decide given the opportunity.  The State of Florida has very specific language on these issues and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue trains all their paramedics on the specifics of medical consent laws and state statutes that govern emergency pre-hospital care.

 

Do you have a choice when being transferred from an off-site ER for an inpatient admission?  Absolutely!  Patients will be transferred wherever they wish to go.  The off-site ER will assist the patient in making the transport decision. In the case of a non-emergency inter-facility transport, it is not necessary to use Fire Rescue and a private non-emergency transport will be arranged.

.

When seconds count……you can count on us!  I hope this information helps raise awareness levels within the community when making emergency care and transport decisions on your own behalf, as well as helping you to understand the provisions involved when these decisions are made on your behalf.  One thing you can be sure of…Fire Rescue crews will alwaysbe ready to meet and exceed any demand or expectation that is placed upon them when you dial 911. There is no list of services that Fire Rescue does not respond to. So we’ll continue to work with the host of urgent and emergent healthcare service departments that exist in the community. ‘Till next time, please share this information and take care of each other.

 

Doug McGlynn

Professional Firefighters/Paramedics 

of Palm Beach County

HOA Community Relations

dmcglynn@iaff2928.com

Is the Good Doctor in?

Our offices have been getting inundated with questions from residents seeking information on our medical community’s newest “kid on the block”……theStand-alone ER!  The response comes after JFK Medical Center (based in Atlantis) started opening free-standing ERs  in the north and south ends of Palm Beach County. This is not the first time a hospital has elected to expand their services with a stand-alone emergency room in the US.  In fact, several other states have been seeing the same trend; however Florida is one of the states that is leading these newest additions to the landscape of medical options available to consumers. 

Around the late 90’s we witnessed the expansion of doctor-owned Urgent Care Facilities and Medical Express Centers abroad, which competed for our healthcare business for less serious injuries and medical illnesses. They were marketed as valid alternatives to doctor’s offices since they were prepared to handle more urgent type injuries, often had less waiting times and possessed advanced equipment not typically found in a standard doctor’s office.  When a situation was indeed an emergency, patients were often referred to the Hospital for their receiving Emergency Department, or ER.

Around the mid 2000’s, a hybrid option consisting of part Urgent Care Center and  part Emergency Room (minus the hospital) started popping up in places like Minnesota, Maryland and Texas to name a few.  In 2008 Miami had its dose of controversy with the opening of a 16 bed, stand-alone ER owned by Mount Sinai Medical Center in Aventura located only a mile from rival Aventura Hospital & Medical Center.  Interestingly enough, the new facility was located twelve miles from the main hospital and didn’t require an award from the state for a CON (Certificate of Need) in order to operate. Miami residents had many questions as they do here in Palm Beach County with the opening of JFK Medical Center’s West Boynton facility (the first was opened in early 2013 at Downtown at the Gardens location in Palm Beach Gardens).

When tasked with making a medical destination decision regarding the plethora of options available in today’s healthcare marketplace, seniors are especially skeptical that they might not be informed enough about the facilities available to them in order to make the right choice.  That is what the next series of articles sets out to accomplish…… providing general information on the variety of centers, offices, ERs and hospitals in hopes of highlighting the differences between them using a “Fire Rescue Fast Facts” format.  Let’s begin:

Does a stand-alone ER offer ALL OF THE SERVICESoffered at a hospital-based ER?YES.

The state mandates that all stand-alone emergency departments must offer the same services as their hospital based counterpart in order to be classified by the state as a “licensed emergency room”.  Typical ERs are open 24hrs per day, have separate treatment rooms, designated trauma rooms, triage rooms, full service labs, their own pharmacy, advanced imaging equipment and MRI capabilities. Most importantly, ER’s are required to staff “board-certified emergency physicians” at all times. In the case of JFK Medical Center ER and the free-standing Emergency Care facility owned and operated by JFK Medical Center, the basic services are the same. The basic services are the same; however, we will discuss any critical care services next.

If you’re not standing in front, looking at the building…how can one determine which is the Hospital ER and which one is the stand-alone ER? This is a great question and in Palm Beach County we have the JFK Medical Center to use as our example.  JFK ER is the hospital emergency room located on South Congress Avenue in Atlantis.  The north county emergency room in Palm Beach Gardens as well as the western Boynton Beach location on 10921 S. Jog Road in The Shoppes of Woolbright are officially titled “Emergency Care Services at JFK Medical Center.’  Palm Beach County Fire Rescue refers to the Hospital on Congress Avenue as JFK ER, and the two Emergency Care Service facilities as “JFK North” and “JFK South”.  When you call the Emergency Care Facility directly, they call themselves an “Emergency Department” on the phone message.  JFK also has a website http://jfkmc.com/our-services/emergency-care-services-in-palm-beach-gardens.dotThe link delineates the main hospital ER from the off-site ER simply as “Hospital Emergency Care” to identify the ER at the main hospital and “Emergency Care Off-site” to identify the stand-alone facilities. 

 

For the purposes of these discussions, we will refer to the separate, stand-alone emergency care facility as the “off-site emergency department”.

If Hospital Emergency Rooms and Emergency Service Departments that are “off-site” have similar basic services, then how do the critical care intervention capabilities differ from each facility?  Palm Beach County has many critical care interventions that are available at some hospitals and not others.  This may make it confusing when deciding not only which hospital you choose to frequent, but which hospital you would prefer a Fire Rescue crew to transport you to.  Some hospitals are classified as specified critical intervention facilities depending on the reference or nature of illness. For instance, Bethesda Hospital East is a Cardiac Alert Intervention Facility as well as a Stroke Alert, OB & Pediatric patient facility. In contrast, Bethesda Hospital West (located at Boynton Beach Blvd/441) has all the same basic hospital and ER services as its eastern counterpart, however, only Pediatric and Stroke Alert Intervention services are available when it comes to the critical care interventions capabilities. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has a Hospital Capabilities Checklist that paramedics are trained to follow so that each medical situation can be evaluated in order to make the most appropriate medical transport decision.  This checklist is ever changing and so is the paramedic’s quality and quantity of on-going, continuous educational training in the areas of pre-hospital emergency medicine.

Next month we plan to discuss further which services are unique to the off-site emergency dept when compared to the already existent “urgent care” facilities.  We also plan to break down the critical care intervention capabilities between hospitals in Palm Beach County as well as illustrate the sharp contrast between them.  Lastly, we will take a look at those critical intervention capabilities to discuss why these services are not treated at an off-site emergency department.

 

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 DEATH in THE GROVES

 

Following the tragic death of beloved Margaret Diana, Boynton Beach resident of THE GROVES, an emergency Town Hall Meeting was called by The Professional Firefighters & Paramedics of Palm Beach County.  The media covered the event as well as the community newspaper, The Globe. 

 

See Sun Sentinel article:  http://www.southflorida.com/news/fl-palm-carbon-monxide-safety-20130121,0,2119036.story as well as the local media who followed up with an on site interview.

 

See Ch25 News exclusive:  http://www.wpbf.com/news/south-florida/Palm-Beach-County-News/Firefighter-Many-mistake-carbon-monoxide-danger-alert-for-bad-battery-signal/-/8815578/18247486/-/b0ippm/-/index.html

 

Over 200 residents packed the clubhouse to hear about the life threatening effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and what residents could do to minimize their risks. Margaret Diana was not the first Grovite to die from CO poisoning. Back in 2001, Helene and Carl Braun succumbed to the deadly gases, and in 2006, it was Morris Green. Numerous other residents have had close calls in this same neighborhood. It is time we find out what residents are missing out on when it comes to understanding the hazards of carbon monoxide.

Today we will address some of those issues raised in efforts of following up on some of the most important questions asked in that Town Hall Meeting using our “Fire-Rescue Fast Fact” format. Let’s begin.

 

What is the cause of Carbon Monoxide in our homes?  The top two non-fire related causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in the US are from gas burning appliances (water heater, oil burner, stoves)  and poorly maintained heating systems.  Although this is true for the nation, in South Florida our major cause and source of carbon monoxide comes from running automobiles in enclosed garages as well as portable generator exhaust, in addition to those listed above.

 

How many CO Detectors should I have?  The CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) as well as the NFPA (Ntl Fire Protection Associaton) recommends having at least one CO detector on every level of the home. It is smart to place your detector between the potential source of carbon monoxide and living occupants.  For instance, if you don’t own a generator or any gas appliances, then an attached garage could present as the prime location for potential sources of carbon monoxide. Therefore, a detector should be placed just inside the home, closest to the garage without actually placing it inside the garage. This detector may be in a great location, however, residents should be mindful that they can actually hear the detector while they’re asleep on the other side of the house. In this case, a second detector should be placed just outside the sleeping quarters or bedroom.

 

Where is the best location to install a CO Detector?  This really depends on the home, the detector type and the potential source of carbon monoxide that exists in the home. As a rule of thumb, most CO Detectors that are hard wired into the home are of the ceiling mounted type.  An electric CO Detector should always have a battery back-up and those batteries should be replaced along with your smoke detector batteries at the Daylight Savings Time change.  If you are installing a ceiling mounted type, make sure that it is no closer than 4” from any walls. You should also avoid any dead spaces, corners or intersecting walls/partitions.

 

          The Wall is also an ideal location to install a CO Detector:

Carbon Monoxide is slightly lighter than air so in cases of ambient temperature carbon monoxide levels (E.g.- carbon monoxide NOT from a fire which produces hot, buoyant gases), the gas can be detected by monitors that are mounted in areas other than on the ceiling. Because of this, wall mounted detectors should be no lower than 5ft from the floor.  A common detector type is of the “plug in style” which allows the product to simply be plugged into a wall mount outlet.  Many homes have wall mounted outlets 5’ off the floor in their laundry room walk-thru which serves as an excellent location to mount a CO Detector. For homes without a laundry room walk-thru leading from the attached garage into the home, the kitchen itself will suffice. Again, the kitchen wall outlets are also raised up off the floor, although the room size in a kitchen is considerably larger than a walk-thru laundry room. 

 

It has always been advised NOT to install smoke alarms in the kitchen.  Is it okay to install CO Detectors in the kitchen?

CO Detectors are NOT like smoke detectors and will not trigger an alarm if they are exposed to low concentrations of CO for only a few seconds. The reason smoke alarms are not advised to be installed inside kitchens is because of the “false alarm” potential. This is not the case with a CO Detector although there are a list of “false positive” alarms for all types of detectors. Next month we will expand on CO false positives.  Some CO Detectors work on low level activations which will trigger an alarm quicker than some of the other products on the market.

 

How long do they last?   As a rule of thumb CO Detectors should be replaced every 7 years per the manufacturer’s instructions.  CO Detectors are NOT like smoke alarm/detectors which commonly last longer (approx. 10yrs).  If the Detector is triggering false alarms or if the alarm chirps/indicates a low battery state even after replacing the battery this might be one of either two causes:

  1. The Detector is defective and should be replaced
  2. The Detector is actually in the ALARM MODE and the homeowner just doesn’t realize it.  In this case, an unsuspecting resident may be changing out batteries instead of exiting the home & calling 911.

 

What does a CO Detector in the ALARM MODE sound like?  The best answer to that question is,  “you tell me what it sounds like”.  Homeowners should absolutely know what the detector sounds like while it’s in the ALARM MODE and this should be verified monthly by pushing the “push-to-test” button on the detector.  You will see that most folks don’t realize that CO Detectors don’t “chime” like a smoke alarm. They “beep” in a particular sequence that is proportionate to the quantity of seconds of silence that follow the beep. This information is listed on the back of the detector and part of the Manufacturers Instructions that comes with the product packaging. There are some detectors that have “Voice Commands” and additional warning devices such as flashing lights, LED screens, etc that can also alert residents that there is a Carbon Monoxide Alarm in progess.

 

Does the CO Detector “beep alarm” sound similar to the low-battery “chirp” in a standard Smoke Detector?  Yes. This is true and that is why it is so important for residents to operate the “push-to-test” button at least monthly so we know what the detector sounds like when it is in the ALARM MODE.

 

Due to the importance of this topic and the life saving information that can be gathered by sharing these question & answer articles, we will continue this discussion next month. Until then, click the links above, talk to your neighbors and look out for one another!

 

Doug McGlynn Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County

HOA Community Relations dmcglynn@iaff2928.com (561) 969-0729 – http://www.iaff2928.com

 

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Fire-Rescue FASTFacts

 

Over the years, there have been many programs available to citizens regarding the accessibility of life-saving information in the event Fire Rescue arrives to an emergency medical event involving an unconscious person.  Obviously, in order for the emergency responder to have the necessary vital medical and personal health-related information, there must be some other way to convey it when the patient has lost his or her ability to speak or communicate.  Today we will address this issue in a “Fire-Rescue Fast Fact” format.  Let’s begin.

 

 

What is the ICE program, and how do I learn more about it?

ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency,” and it is a simple way for a user to place an emergency contact person’s name and phone number in his or her cell phone.  The idea was initially created in the year 2000 thanks to Bob Brotchie, a UK paramedic.  It was mass-marketed on a global scale by the spring of 2005.  The program has its advantages but also some disadvantages; for example, the validity and practicality of a paramedic using the information in a life-saving situation.  Although the chances are slim that a firefighter/paramedic will need to access the “next of kin” information in order to treat a patient, law enforcement stands a better chance at retrieving someone’s personal information if it is cataloged in one single, uniform place.  Almost everyone has a cell phone, so having the contact person entered in a cell phone CONTACT LIST under the letters “ICE” is a great way to find out someone’s next of kin or emergency contact person.

 

 

What if the phone is locked?

True, it is difficult to get the myriad of phones unlocked; not to mention that many people have their phones key or password protected.  This makes it almost impossible to access the ICE information unless it can be unlocked.  However, manufacturers are cooperating with demands from the public regarding this issue; for instance:  i-Phone 4S models have a feature where Siri can access ICE-related information from the phone’s address book (even while the phone is locked), simply by stating “Contacts ICE.”  All models may not have this available upgrade, but the manufacturers are listening to the ever changing demands of it’s customer base (e.g. – you and I).

 

 

Why not just have a wallet card with contact information on that? 

It makes sense to carry identification with you as well as having ICE-related information written down on a wallet-sized card.  In fact, the ICE Program has expanded to include ICE Tags and ICE Cards for your wallet, glove box, and even QR Code application for your smart phone .  Some of these card/tags can be mounted to a cyclist’s helmet, gear or clipped on as a keychain.  For information about some of these options, see the links below:

 

http://shop.taggisar.se/en/

http://theicecard.com/

http://iceincaseofemergency.ca/store/redeem/ice-wallet-card/

 

With Alzheimer’s cases on the rise, having a loved one carry ICE contact information with them is a smart idea.  In fact, with America’s growing elderly population, it’s important that we have systems in place (such as the Silver Alert Program) that can aid and assist with the safe return of a wandering senior who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or mental disability.

 

 

What is a Silver Alert Network? 

The Florida Silver Alert Network (an Amber Alert for seniors) which started as a pilot program right here in Florida (Pinellas County) in 2008, has grown to a statewide initiative and uses all sources of social media, news, road signs, and even reverse 911 in order to get the message out that a senior is missing.  In fact, statistics show that 6 out of every 10 seniors will wander off at least once; and, with the growing population of Alzheimer’s disease, nearly 50% of those seniors will suffer serious or even fatal injuries.  For more questions on Florida Silver Alert Program, please click

 

http://www.floridasilveralert.com

 

or see the attached pdf entitled “Silver Alert Frequently Asked Questions”

 

http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/MCICSearch/Documents/SilverAlertFAQ.pdf

 

From a Fire Rescue standpoint, the program we proudly endorse along with our emergency partners at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross Chapter is the “Vial of Life Program.”  Next month, we plan to discuss how this program has changed over the years and where you can get free Vial of Life forms for download.  We also plan to discuss the “Yellow Dot Program” which appears to be gaining popularity among South Florida residents, especially here in the south county.

 

Until then, please be safe and look out for each other!

 

 

Fire Captain Doug McGlynn

Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County HOA Community Relations

dmcglynn@iaff2928.com

(561) 969-0729 – O

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